February 28, 2005

ARTHUR CHRENKOFF has posted his regular roundup of underreported news from Iraq. (“That so many people, and not just the Sunni sheikhs, now want the piece of the Iraqi action perhaps tells us more about the true situation and future prospects in Iraq than most current news reports.”) And here’s a report from my secretary, a Marine combat engineer reservist. Click “read more” to read it.

UPDATE: It’s not all good news, though. I don’t generally cover the bombing-of-the-day stories, just as I don’t link all the “key aide of Zarqawi captured” stories. But this is a big one. Will it win over any Iraqis to the insurgents’ side, though? Seems doubtful. And it won’t win any friends for Syria, either, given that it’s seen as supporting the insurgents.

He writes:

Greetings from sunny Iraq! We are slowly leaving the rainy season and the Muhmadiya area has been experience sunny, clear days with highs in the 80s.

We have not had any major operations since my last letter and I was really trying to decide what to write about. It occurred to me, however, that we have destroyed a hand grenade on a soccer field, trees marking an IED site, several weapons caches, positions we are no longer using, and a berm used to conceal IEDs along a highway. We have conducted security patrols and searches leading the to the confiscation of weapons and the detainment of suspected insurgents. I have even been tasked with the construction of a weight bench that had no instructions. It is rarely boring.

This is not to say look at me and how cool/great I am but to try to put into perspective the myriad and changing tasks which we execute. One of the recurring themes in my letters seems to be the difference between what I call the task and personnel paradigms between civilian and military organizations. The above illustrates my point that military organizations have relatively static personnel and dynamic tasks. This is not to say that civilian organization do not have changing tasks and bedrock reliable people, but in a similar period of
time, a military organization faces greater change with higher costs/benefits. As for fluidity/flexibility very little has changed since Sun Tzu; we like to talk about the OODA loop and other modern terms/theories but little has changed: out think your opponent and win. The idea is similar to running the a no huddle offense with less than two minutes left.

I ran into an officer in the chow hall today from the Louisiana National Guard. He knew my cousin, also an LNG officer, who lost his leg in Baghdad in November.

Weird note. A few days ago, while conducting house searches, a family made us tea. This is not the response I would probably give to a group of armed men searching my house before dawn, but interesting none the less. The houses/farms in the agricultural areas always amaze me. You see someone working their fields with nothing more than a shovel but they own an auto, a cell phone, and have satellite TV.

Well, the internet cafe is closing for maintenance, hope that I have said hello and put a bit of a human face on the war.


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